Column - Ban assault weapons, once and for all“Guns don’t kill people.” Go tell that to the parents of 20 dead children in Newtown, Connecticut. “Guns don’t kill people” is just one of the many deflective slogans so dear to the hearts of gun worshippers.
By: Dennis Dalman, Alexandria Echo Press
“Guns don’t kill people.”
Go tell that to the parents of 20 dead children in Newtown, Connecticut.
“Guns don’t kill people” is just one of the many deflective slogans so dear to the hearts of gun worshippers. Many people parrot that slogan, which is meant to keep gun control out of the discussion after every mass shooting.
The following are some of the dismissive, defeatist comments/slogans we keep hearing:
“Banning guns won’t help.”
“These killers will find a way to get guns anyway, legal or not.”
“Even if we ban guns, they’ll be smuggled in from Mexico.”
“If someone wants to kill, they’ll find a way. If they can’t get guns, they’ll use bombs.”
“We’ll never be able to stop violence.”
“If they ban assault weapons, next they’ll take our huntin’ guns away.”
Except for the latter, all of those statements are true to a degree. But the net effect of such knee-jerk dismissals is to keep gun control out of the equation. Serious consideration about gun restrictions then becomes drowned in an ocean of talk, talk and more talk. And that is exactly what the NRA wants – a deflective shield, a nationwide denial, windy words ending in no action.
Fortunately, Americans are now angry enough to demand changes. Will that anger last? Will anything get done? It’s highly doubtful, considering the despicable fact that too many legislators are virtual hostages of the NRA. One hope this time around is that some of the millions of good people who are NRA members, including a few legislators, are now questioning that organization’s iron-clad stance against any gun controls at all.
Predictably, the NRA ducked into a self-imposed silence after the killings in Newtown, then its vice president, Wayne LaPierre, emerged for a “press conference” during which, in a meandering rant, he blamed shootings on video games, the media, politicians, lax enforcement and the inability to keep track of the mentally ill. It’s a wonder he didn’t blame the full moon. His solution? More guns, not fewer. There should be trained armed guards in all schools, he concluded.
Who can disagree that much of what LaPierre said is partly true? Yes, a variety of grim causes contributes to every mass shooting. They should definitely be part of everyone’s efforts to try to stop these killings.
LaPierre said the only question is how many more shooters will there be?
He knows that is not the “only question.” Here are the questions he chose not to address: How many more assault weapons will be used in future shootings? How many more of them will be manufactured and made all too easily available to shooters? When will this gun proliferation stop?
The NRA’s upper echelon, funded heavily by gun makers, doesn’t want those questions asked. It is hoping once again this public outrage will soon fade to silence and inaction.
Let’s prove the NRA wrong; let’s keep our outrage alive; let’s pressure our legislators. Banning assault weapons now would help diminish their availability in the future. We could also start a “buy back” program to encourage assault-gun owners to turn them in for cash.
“Unconstitutional!” some will scream. Since when is any constitutional amendment an “absolute” right? The Second Amendment is not absolute. Banning assault weapons will not eradicate the right to bear arms. While grappling with all the causes of violence, we can at least take one sane, doable action now. Define precisely what should be considered an assault weapon and then slap a ban on the manufacture and sale of them.
Will legislators finally act? The halls of the U.S. Congress should be lined with big photo posters of the 20 sweethearts who were butchered in Newtown.
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Dennis Dalman, a former reporter for the Echo Press, is a regular contributing columnist to the Opinion page. He is currently the editor of the St. Joseph Newsleader. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.